Doing Science: Design, Analysis, and Communication of Scientific Research

By Ivan Valiela | Go to book overview

9
Presenting Data in Figures

There can be little doubt that the hallmark of scientific reports is the graphical depiction of results. Graphs show relationships underlying observations in a way no other device can provide. Moreover, figures supply the actual data, so the skeptical reader can see what in fact the writer used as the evidence for assertions. We will spend considerable effort discussing graphics, for a fundamental reason: the way in which we present the data determines what can be seen in the data. Effective communication of scientific data depends on clearly thought-out means of portraying data.

It is generally harder (but not difficult) to lie with graphs than with statistics. … Do the graph and the statistics. If the statistics agree with the graph, then publish the statistics. If the statistics do not agree with the graph, then publish the graph and throw out the statistics.

W. Magnusson (1997)

Figures in scientific documents are wonderfully varied. Graphical materials include photographs, maps, charts (this term refers primarily to nautical or topographic maps), elevations and plan views, and many sorts of diagrams. With computer technology these all will surely expand in unforeseen ways.

Rather than dwell on the more visually exciting maps, charts, and diagrams, we will devote most attention to the less glamorous but far more common workhorses of science, graphs and histograms. Today, these are the two major kinds of figures appearing in scientific publications or reports. We will also discuss a few other more specialized types of graphics—three-dimensional graphs, bar graphs, pie diagrams, triangular graphs, and rose diagrams.

As we discuss the different ways in which data are shown graphically, it may become apparent that these are not just neat ways to display data. First, these devices afford important ways to analyze the content of data. Graphical data analysis is a growing field that complements and parallels statistical data analysis. In many ways, graphical data analysis is more satisfying, because we personally and literally extract meaning from numbers by the way we manipulate and show our data. Clear graphics aid, and show, clear thinking about what data mean.

Second, graphics convey important information, critical for many aspects of our lives. A dramatic example of the importance of clear data presentation is the process by which the decision was made to go ahead

-183-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Doing Science: Design, Analysis, and Communication of Scientific Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Doing Science 1
  • 1 - Obtaining Scientific Information 3
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 2 - Elements of Scientific Data and Tests of Questions 29
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 3 - Statistical Analyses 49
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 4 - Principles of Research Design 79
  • Sources and Further Reading 97
  • 5 - Communication of Scientific Information: Writing 99
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 6 - Communicating Scientific Information: the Scientific Paper 127
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 7 - Other Means of Scientific Communication 147
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 8 - Presenting Data in Tables 171
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 9 - Presenting Data in Figures 183
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • 10 - Case Studies of Graphical Data Presentation 219
  • 11 - Perceptions and Criticisms of Science 255
  • Sources and Further Reading *
  • Index 285
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 294

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.